Meetings have changed over the past year, many being postponed or shifted to virtual as in-person events came to a halt. Even as things start to reopen, we are seeing that some of these changes are here to stay, with meeting planners hoping to provide safe, flexible offerings that appeal to everyone. Hybrid meetings and events are one way planners are incorporating in-person and virtual components to their plans. We interviewed Shakiera Helenic, Director of Sales & Marketing at Sonesta Suites Scottsdale Gainey Ranch, to get her insight on what lies ahead for hybrid meetings.

Shakiera has 25+ years of hospitality experience and recently participated on a panel called How to Hybrid: The Mysteries Unraveled
Hybrid meetings and events can include in-person and virtual attendees.

What are hybrid events?

A hybrid event is a meeting, tradeshow, conference, seminar, or occasion that combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.

How are they facilitated?

By offering an opportunity for event attendees to engage/attend in a manner that best matches their needs, offering both on-site and online experiences for the same event.

How can planners incorporate hybrid events into their upcoming plans?

Survey potential attendees to find out if there is interest in attending a Hybrid event and what topics/content are important. 

What are some of the biggest challenges one faces with hybrid events, and how do you address them?

Making sure that the content is engaging and the event does not feel like two separate events, that the overall event is one event offering two experiences. It is important to make certain the event content is relevant to both in-person and virtual attendees to prevent isolating one group from participation.

Do you foresee hybrid events remaining a popular choice after the pandemic?

Yes, I believe attendees will continue to appreciate the flexibility and options that they are afforded with Hybrid Events.  It’s an opportunity to appeal to a broader audience, while helping the attendees feel safe.   

Planning a meeting or event and want to explore virtual options? We can help! Visit our meetings page to get started.